AHRQ wants to develop rating system for EHR's patient education components

By Anthony Brino
03:45 PM

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) wants to develop a health information rating system for measuring the success of electronic health systems (EHRs) in patient education.

AHRQ is asking the Office of Management and Budget to approve a request for research and planning for a rating system, AHRQ announced in the Federal Register.

“Over the past several years, low health literacy has been identified as an important health care quality issue,” AHRQ wrote, citing one 2003 study estimating that only 12 percent of U.S. adults are proficient in health literacy and another study linking that lack of proficiency with as much as $73 billion in unnecessary healthcare spending every year.

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EHRs can connect “patients to helpful resources on treatment and self-management,” AHRQ wrote. “EHRs can also facilitate clinicians' use of patient health education materials in the clinical encounter.”

Today, though, AHRQ officials wrote, EHR health education content is rarely written for the lay consumer in mind.

AHRQ’s proposed project would develop a “valid and reliable” health information rating system, or HIRS, create a library of patient education content, review the potential patient education capabilities of EHRs and reach out to vendors and providers.

Currently, AHRQ is focused on the first aspect, creating a HIRS. The agency developed a draft HIRS and has tested it on a set of six patient education resources for asthma and another set of six education resources for colonoscopies, rating them for accessibility and actionability.

Agency researchers rated them; some were helpful and some were not. The next goal, the agency said, is to run consumer tests.

The public comment period ends December 4.